Christmas in the military

As families all across the country wake up to see what Santa has brought, those who have chosen to pursue a career in the public service sector may not have the luxury of being home for Christmas.

PHOTO SUBMITTED / Adrien Ables and Eastman Brooks Ables, say goodbye to their husband and father, Jeremy Ables, before he deploys. Jeremy Ables will be missing his son's first Christmas as he serves on the U.S.S. Vicksburg.

PHOTO SUBMITTED / Adrien Ables and Eastman Brooks Ables, say goodbye to their husband and father, Jeremy Ables, before he deploys. Jeremy Ables will be missing his son’s first Christmas as he serves on the U.S.S. Vicksburg.

Jeremy Ables, a U.S. Navy petty officer on the U.S.S. Vicksburg, will be spending his Christmas in the Mediterranean Sea instead of home with his wife and son, Adriean and Eastman Brooks Ables.

A 2012 graduate of Enterprise Attendance Center, Ables’s plans did not always include military life.

“I always had the hope and dream of becoming a dentist,” he said.

But after half a semester at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Ables began discussing joining the military with his parents, Jerry and Michele Ables.

“After going to the enlisting office in Jackson, Mississippi, it all happened so fast,” he said.

Before he knew it, he was being shipped off to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Chicago, for boot camp. Afterwards, he went to a rating school to become an operation specialists.

Operations specialists aboard U.S. Navy combat vessels work in the Combat Information Center (as known as the tactical “nerve center” of the ship). Using a wide variety of assets available to them, they are responsible for the organized collection, processing, display, competent evaluation and rapid dissemination of pertinent tactical combat information to command and control stations, upon which sound tactical decisions may be made.

Since recruitment, Ables has been able to grow up from a teenage boy to a man.

“Joining the military is an eye opener,” he said. “It has made me grow up so much and made me realize the bigger things in life. I look at things a lot differently than I did when I was the 18-year-old boy prior to joining. It’s given me something to fight for, time to work on myself and see how I can have a better purpose by serving others.”

The Navy was not the only thing that gave Ables a purpose.

“At the time I didn’t know what my purpose of joining was,” he said. “Later after marrying my wife and having our son, Eastman Brooks Ables, it became clear to me what I joined for – to protect my wife and son, family, friends and country.”

Although Ables’s young family has given him a sense of purpose, they are also the hardest struggle he faces.

“The biggest struggle has been dealing with separation. While it never gets easy, I can’t always tuck my son in or kiss my wife goodnight,” he said. “Separation is a never-ending struggle, but with the support system we have, it makes things a lot better for us.”

Ables said his preacher, David Langston, directs him to Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

“My wife and I have lived by this verse,” he said. “My wife and I have eliminated ‘goodbye’ from our terminology; we never say goodbye just ‘see you later’ or ‘see you soon.'”

Coping has been a climb for Ables and his wife.

“It isn’t always easy,” he said. “My wife, Adriean Ables, is my number one supporter. She has the role of being a wife, mom and full-time student.”

Jeremy and Adriean Ables got married when they were both 19.

“We have had to grow and mature so much with each other, dealing with separation and not always being able to talk when we want to,” he said. “My wife has become so strong, and always tells me things are okay. Having to do all she does and the support she gives me is like no other.”

Ables said they have learned to appreciate the time they do have together.

“We can do nothing but sit at the house all day together, but we are perfectly fine with that because we know our time is limited,” he said. “Duty can call at any appointed time. Sometimes it could be a matter of days before we can talk or sometimes a week at a time.”

The simple days help Ables deal with both the separation and the possibility of the worst-case scenario becoming a reality.

“My biggest fear is not coming home, which is why not ever taking a single second for granted has become so important,” he said.

His family may have learned to cope with the separation, but this Christmas will be harder.

“I always have remembered Christmas with my father’s side of the family – aunts, uncles and cousins,” he said.

This Christmas will be his son’s first Christmas.

“I’m thankful my son will be able to spend his first Christmas with his grandparents (Michele and Jerry Ables and Laura Fredenburg),” he said. “It is still hard from a dad’s standpoint not to be there for his son’s first Christmas. My wife does a great job at telling our son about Daddy everyday and why he does what he does.”

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